The July 26 meeting in Washington to make amid discussions about the withdrawal of U.S. troops raised concerns about frequent attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq.
U.S. President Joe Biden will receive Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House on July 26, his office has announced.
The meeting “highlights the strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq,” the White House said in a statement Friday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “also looks forward to strengthening bilateral cooperation with Iraq on political, economic and security issues to include joint efforts to ensure the lasting defeat” of ISIL ( ISIS).
The meeting will take place against the background of growing concerns among U.S. officials about more frequent attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq and Syria.
There have been at least eight drone attacks aimed at the U.S. presence since Biden took office in January, as well as 17 drone attacks.
The Biden administration has responded by pointing twice to Iraqi armed groups operating in Syria, including one near the Iraqi border.
Iraq has long been an arena for a bitter rivalry between the United States and Iran despite its common enmity toward ISIL.
Baghdad’s relationship with Washington has been complicated since the United States assassinated last year Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and former Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad International Airport. The drone strike on January 3, 2020, was ordered by then-President Donald Trump.
And American troops in Iraq
In Washington, al-Kadhimi must push for a concrete timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. The implementation of his departure could take years.
On Thursday, al-Kadhimi and U.S. envoy Brett McGurk discussed the issue in Baghdad.
Some 3,500 foreign soldiers are still on Iraqi territory, including 2,500 Americans, who have been deployed to help fight ISIL since 2014.
Al-Kadhimi’s meeting with McGurk came just over a week after 14 rockets were fired at Ain al-Assad air base, which welcomes U.S. troops in western Iraq, and three others landing near the US embassy in Baghdad.
They were the latest in a series of attacks targeting U.S. military and diplomatic structures in Iraq. The attacks were blamed on pro-Iranian armed groups in a state-sponsored paramilitary force called the People’s Mobilization Forces.